Suez Canal Authority Obtains Court Order to Seize Ever Given

Ever given refloated
Image courtesy Suez Canal Authority

Published Apr 13, 2021 9:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Suez Canal Authority has secured a formal court order to seize the container ship Ever Given for "failure to pay an amount of $ 900 million," the Egyptian government-owned news outlet Ahram Gate reported Tuesday. The SCA had previously announced its intention to hold the vessel until the outcome of negotiations with the owners over damage compensation from the ship's infamous six-day grounding. 

"The Suez Canal submitted a request to the Ismailia Economic Court to seize the ship, which was approved by the [court] and issued the seizure decision pending payment of compensation estimated at $900 million," the SCA told the outlet. 

The UK P&I Club has confirmed that Egypt has filed a claim for $916 million against the ship's owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha. Shoei has also confirmed that a claim has been made, but has not provided additional details. 

In a statement Wednesday, operator Evergreen said that SCA's claim amount included a "$300 million claim for salvage bonus and a $300 claim for loss of reputation." 

According to Evergreen, a meeting between the shipowners and SCA on April 12 ended without an agreement. The day after the meeting, SCA applied for a court order to seize the vessel. "No consensus was reached [at the meeting] because SCA's claims are largely unsupported and lack any detailed justification," Evergreen asserted. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the cost of the salvage operation is believed to be in the low seven figures. Refinitiv estimates the lost canal transit fees for the SCA at less than $100 million for the six-day shutdown. 

For now, the Ever Given - along with her 18,000 TEU worth of cargo and her 25 crewmembers - remains anchored in the Great Bitter Lake. She has been stranded by legal problems for far longer than she was stranded by the canal's banks, and the timeline for her release is unknown. 

The Suez Canal Authority's chairman, Lieutenant General Osama Rabie, told state media that he is quite certain that the fault for the grounding lies with the shipowner. "Of course, yes," he said, according to the AP. He added that the investigation into the cause is nearly complete, and will likely finish on Thursday. 

[Updated with Evergreen's response]